Granted, I didn't know all of that in September, but I still took a huge leap of faith in predicting this team would finish 11-5. The Chiefs have nine games left, and they should be favored in all but two of them: next week in St. Louis, and a December road game in San Diego.
This Sunday, the Chiefs face a Seattle Seahawks team that stands 4-2 but is hardly playing like the defending NFC champions. Among their victims this year have been such NFL powerhouses as the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals. They did defeat the New York Giants at home, so they do have at least one win over a quality opponent.
The same can be said for the Chiefs, who got their first quality win against the San Diego Chargers last week.
But even though KC's record doesn't match Seattle's, the Chiefs might be the better team. The good guys in red made major headway in climbing back into the AFC West race when they beat San Diego. The Seahawks currently share the same record with the Rams, but after this weekend, those two teams could be heading in opposite directions.
Herm Edwards, who has taken a lot of heat already this season, has really done a remarkable job. His team has been competitive in five of six games this season. That's a big accomplishment when you consider that the Chiefs have weathered the biggest storm of the season by climbing back to .500 after an 0-2 start.
Earlier in the week I ran into Edwards in the elevator, and he told me something very interesting. He said that he's learned a lot about his football team and they've learned a lot about him. That tells me that he's beginning to sense his team's potential.
Edwards is a positive man, to say the least. He's also one of those rare people that always stays upbeat. Granted, he rubs some in the media the wrong way, but he's a football coach, and as he told everyone this week at his press conference, he knows what he's doing.
Edwards has rallied the team around backup quarterback Damon Huard, who is 3-2 as a starter, while fixing some of the problems on defense. He's created hope that the season will be extended into the playoffs.
Don't get me wrong, this team still has some major holes to fill. The offensive tackles are still not playing at a level that will allow this offense to become a dominating unit. They may end up that way, but Jordan Black and Kevin Sampson are still struggling with growing pains.
To that end, Edwards welcomed back John Welbourn and signed Chris Terry this week. Both just finished serving six-game suspensions for banned substances, but the Chiefs felt they were worth the risk.
In Terry's case, he hasn't played in an NFL game since the end of the 2004 season. But Edwards said more than once that Terry was a very good football player. If Terry has truly overcome his recent troubles and can become a productive member of this football team, he could end being a steal. If not, then the Chiefs really don't lose very much.
The Chiefs know what they have when it comes to Welbourn, who has experience in the offense. He can fill in at either tackle spot and should be activated for next Sunday's game in St. Louis.
Edwards has served notice to his team this week that no job is safe. Adding two veteran tackles midway through the season sends a message to the entire offensive line. It's clear that Edwards expects more from his starting tackles.
Edwards knows that his Chiefs have a better than average chance of defeating the Seahawks this Sunday. He's also looked ahead at the schedule and probably sees the same thing that everyone else sees when gazing at the next few opponents, potential wins – lots of them.
On Sunday the Chiefs will face a Seattle team that will feature backup quarterback Seneca Wallace and backup running back Maurice Morris. Not a daunting task, especially when you factor in the Seahawks struggles with their own offensive line.
But their struggles are not limited to the offense. Seattle's defense has been toasted both on the air and on the ground at times. Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren, however, is a master at motivating teams during the regular season, so this game won't be a layup for the Chiefs. Still, if the defense can produce the same kind of intensity they did against the Chargers, the Chiefs should be able to limit Seattle from believing that they have any chance to win at Arrowhead.
This game, like so many that make up the balance of the Chiefs 2006 regular season, will come down to one thing: Will the Chiefs take care of business against an opponent that they clearly should beat?
Five to Watch:
1. QB Damon Huard - His apparent injury in practice on Thursday shouldn't affect his ability to play well on Sunday. Huard has done an amazing job at leading this team. Granted, he's just one game above the even mark as a starter, but his two touchdown passes last weekend against the Chargers were picture perfect. One needed touch, while the other required pinpoint accuracy. Against a struggling Seahawks secondary, he should be able to continue that trend.
2. KR Dante Hall - This might be the biggest game in Dante Hall's career. He's struggling, and somehow he needs to put the past behind him. Hall can't live off his laurels anymore. Teams have been successful at kicking or punting the ball to the outside part of the field because Hall has not done a very good job of cutting back and going forward. They know he's dancing and moving from one side to another. As long as that continues, the Chiefs return game will be stagnant.
3. LB Derrick Johnson - He tweaked his ankle in practice on Wednesday. Let's hope he can play at a high level this week. The Chiefs need him to blitz Wallace on Sunday. DJ was very solid against the run last weekend, but he was even better at putting pressure on Philip Rivers. This is an area where the Chiefs still need to improve if this defense is going to continue to get better. The front four was solid last week, and when that happens, DJ is twice as effective.
4. DE Jimmy Wilkerson - Not many people noticed the game he played last weekend. He was all over the field. It's taken him some time, but he's developed into a solid and productive player. With Tamba Hali and Jared Allen playing great football, there's very little pressure on Wilkerson to make plays. In his first few years in Kansas City, he's been bounced around from the inside to the outside of the defensive line and I think he's finally found a home playing defensive end. He's one of those players that may never be great, but he's certainly a key member of this defense.
5. CB Ty Law - I'm not sure everyone understands the impact that Ty Law has had on this defense. He's solidified the secondary, and in games like the one he'll play on Sunday against Seattle, Law knows how to exploit a young and inexperienced quarterback. Wallace, who has a pair of capable wide receivers in Deion Branch and Darrell Jackson, could be in for a long day.
Five To Watch: Seattle Vs. KC
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